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What happens after receiving the diagnosis

If MS has been diagnosed in your case, you may suffer from one of the following types:

• Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS)
• Primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS)
• Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS)

Secondary progressive MS - as the name suggests – is the advanced stage of what might have started with the relapsing-remitting form of the condition. The sooner the condition is detected – possible thanks to modern diagnostic techniques in recent years – the better the chances are that proper therapy will still be able to delay MS progression.

Coping with MS – why me?

By the time you receive the diagnosis of MS, many of you will already have lived through times of uncertainty with being confronted with different symptoms which are often invisible to others. If you have been diagnosed with MS, talk to your doctor about your doubts and fears. It is important to consult a physician you trust.

You may experience new or unusual symptoms or old symptoms may hit again months, years and sometimes even a decade after the condition was first diagnosed.

Nowadays, with modern MRI techniques MS can be diagnosed quite quickly, allowing people with MS to start proper treatment at an early stage. On the other hand, this also means that you have to start coping with this condition within a shorter period of time.

Multiple Sclerosis is a condition that leaves more than physical scars (i.e. more than lesions in the brain and spinal cord). Many people diagnosed with MS will go through various stages before coming to terms with their condition.

The goal for each of you will be to find a way to live with this condition in the best possible way. The support of your family, friends, of medics and specialists as well as MS organisations etc. may help you to come to terms with the disease. Most of you will experience some or most of these steps described below. Some of you however, may skip over certain steps more quickly than others.

For most patients, the certainty of MS comes as a shock, followed by denial. Initially, having MS is not accepted, along the lines of what must not be, cannot be. Fear:Fear is the dominant factor, especially when a person does not know exactly what to be afraid of. Fear, however, may even destroy more quality of life than the actual MS symptoms do. Fear may pop up repeatedly in the course of the condition, having to be dealt with over and over again. Solid, well-founded information about MS is of course paramount at this stage and may help to dispel some fear.Generalised anxiety is best dealt with by professional counselling. Support groups can also be very helpful in dealing with anxiety distress that may accompany people living with MS. Grief: Grieving and depression are also common among MS patients. While grief is usually temporary, depression may be more persistent and unremitting.Depression is more frequent among people living with MS than in the general population or in other chronic diseases.

If you feel you are suffering from depression, you should seek help. Depression may indicate that you have reached a point in coming to terms with your diagnosis where you need support from someone else. You might have a close friend to talk to about your fears and feelings. Some people may seek the help of a psychiatrist.

Psychotherapy and antidepressants may be effective. Some patients try to cope with depression on their own, but clinical depression is a serious condition. Even people living with MS themselves have sometimes voiced their suspicion that mental (psychological) factors may play a role in the outbreak and the course of their condition. Many people with MS report having serious crises, increased stress, losing or being separated from a loved one, just prior to a new episode of MS or a worsening of the condition.

MS acceptance

Most people with MS sooner or later digest the barrage of bad news following the confirmation of their condition. The personal conclusion as a rule is the eventual acceptance of MS and the realisation that we all have our burdens. It is important to remember that “acceptance” does not mean “giving up” or “admitting defeat”.

The ACT-Programme may help you to cope with the diagnosis and deal with the condition. ACT is a tailored programme for people with MS to facilitate coping with the condition. People living with MS who use computers may also benefit from websites or discussion forums with other MS patients.

The community section of offers an opportunity to get into contact with persons in a similar situation.